Unveiling of a plaque in memory of Greek students, of Jewish religion, victims of the Nazis

On Friday 27 January 2017, at the 72nd Primary School of Athens Andreas Kalvoslocated in Thissio, the Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, Mr. Kostas Gavroglou, conducted the unveiling of an honorary plaque in memory of the Greek Jews murdered in concentration camps.

Since the early 1930s a Primary School was in operation on the same premises, originally the 16th and later the 18th Primary School of Athens, which Greek students of the Jewish religion attended.

During the Occupation, by order of the Nazi troops, the Primary School was closed down.  The students and their parents were arrested and sent to the hellish concentration camps of Central Europe.

The honorary plaque bears the following text: “In memory of the students of the Jewish Primary School of Athens, originally the 16th and then the 18th Primary School of Athens, which were adjacent to the present 72nd Primary School of Athens Andreas Kalvos, and who were murdered in the German extermination camps during the Second World War.”

Mr. Nikos Fylis, SYRIZA MP and former Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, to whom the idea of mounting the plaque is owed, was also present. The following persons were also present: Mr. Georgios Kalantzis, General Secretary of Religions; Mr. Minos Moissis, president of the Jewish Community of Athens; the Representative of His Eminence Archbishop of Athens and Greece, His Excellency Archpriest Georgios Kapellas; Mr. Pavsanias Papageorgiou, General Secretary for Youth and Lifelong Learning; Mr. Haim Nachmias and Mr. Alvertos Tarampoulous from the Jewish Community of Athens; Mr. Victor Eliezer and Mr. Alvertos Yomtov from the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece; the president of the J.M.G.’s Board of Directors, Mr. Makis Matsas; the J.M.G.’s director, Mrs. Zanet Battinou; Ambassador Foteini Tomai; Mr. Anastasios Papageorgiou, Director of Primary Education A’ Athens; representatives of the Parents and Guardians’ Association as well as some of the school’s former Headmasters and teachers.

Taking the stand, the Minister of Education said:
“One of the most important things we learn in our school, is to put ourselves in the shoes of another child who is experiencing problems. On many occasions you discuss with friends your problems at home or the problems between you. Many times, your friends put themselves in your shoes in order to see how you feel. That is the reason why you are friends.

Let us make an attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of Abraham, Esther and Rozina, so that we can see what it was like on the day that some people came to their school and announced that on the following day they would not be going to school. They were taken away because, according to them, they were different, dirty, parasites in the community.

This mentality, represented by fascism, was what destroyed these children and millions of other people.

Just imagine; the number of people killed, was equal to half the population of Greece.

So what we need to do is to try and put ourselves in the shoes of those who suffered so that we can understand what, something that we, fortunately, never experienced, means.

Nowadays, there is no risk of someone forbidding us from coming to school, just because we are different. The risk no longer exists because some people fought and sacrificed themselves defending the idea that we must all be equal. And when we think of them, we should feel grateful. Because they offered us so much, enough for us to be here today enjoying all these amazing benefits of democracy”.

The Minister and the other guests were shown around the school premises by Mrs. Tatiana Spaneli, Headmistress of the school. They also visited the exhibition, which is located in a ground floor classroom, and includes texts and photographs depicting the history and the course of the Greek Jewish community. The drawings, made by the students, who imagined the faces of the students that perished during the occupation, were particularly moving.

At the start of the event the children sang two songs from Miki Theodorakis’ “Balad of Mauthausen”.

Source: Ministry of Education